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Photovoltaic plus Storage – Part 1, Technology

image credit: 8MINUTE-Solar-Energy
John Benson's picture
Senior Consultant Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Senior Consultant: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and...

  • Member since 2013
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  • Feb 19, 2019
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Part 1 of this two-part series is on new technologies for utility-scale PV, utility-scale storage, PV plus storage systems, and the evolution of their missions.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 19, 2019

Well-researched and fascinating as always, John. Looking forward to part II!

I'm curious if you think lithium ion is going to be the long-term storage solution in solar+storage or if the issues with lifetimes, resource availability, and cost (which, you note, is already getting better) will leave enough room for another technology to sneak in and take over? Or are we moving toward a future where there's room for unique storage solution technologies depending on the application?

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Bob Meinetz on Feb 20, 2019

"The 65 MW will energize a 50 MW bank of lithium-ion batteries to provide energy between 3 PM and 8 PM as demand peaks...the 65 MW solar PV array will be able to deliver energy to the grid while the sun is still high in the sky..."

So somehow, this magic 65MW solar/PV system will be able to charge batteries and power the grid at the same time. Got it!

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John Benson on Feb 20, 2019

Hi Matt:

A couple of points regarding your question.

The next generation for mobility will be lithium-chemistry solid-state electrolyte batteries. Although these have some enhanced capabilities that apply to BESS, they are mainly an improvement for mobility applications.

Regarding material costs there are many tracks running that may decrease this for future batteries.

One is obviously to reduce the cost of lithium and other rare materials that go into lithium-chemistry batteries. One track is to use sodium in lieu of lithium. Both of these elements are alkali metals, and have similar characteristics, except sodium is much less expensive. 

Also reducing cobalt is a big priority. Currently it looks like a move to 811 NCM (Nickel Cobalt Manganese) cathode chemistry will result in massive reductions in the cobalt content in lieu of nickel. 811 quite simply stands for 8 parts nickel, 1 part cobalt, 1 part manganese. It is the natural evolution from the traditional 111 chemistry (equal parts of each), 523 (5 parts nickel, 2 parts cobalt and 3 parts manganese) and 622.

The reason that I've taken this excursion into LiIon chemistry is that, as chemistries and configurations designed specifically for mobility and BESS, there will be a natural tendency for their chemistry and configuration to diverge, potentially reducing their additive economies of scale.

Both applications have very robust and rapidly growing  markets, so I believe this divergence will have little impact on their future, and may actually accelerate each of their growth.

-John

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 20, 2019

Teriffic-- I'm going to do some more reading and digging based on your answer. Thanks so much for taking the time to address my questions so thoroughly!

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John Benson on Feb 20, 2019

Hi Bob:

Existing (gas-fueled) peakers typically run from around 2:00PM to around 9:00PM. PV is symmetrical (roughly 8:00AM until 4:00 PM with a peak at noon in the summer). In order minimize the carbon from peakers and greatly increase the value of the PV-source power, the batteries will charge in the morning and match the peakers run-period.

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